Abreu’s three RBIs help Royals top Twins

Minnesota misses chance for series sweep
Abreu’s three RBIs help Royals top Twins

Tony Abreu is making the most of his limited chances and that could earn more playing time.

Abreu drove in three runs and the Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Abreu’s three RBIs matched his career high, set on Sept. 18, 2007 while with Arizona at Colorado.

“He’s got some clutch hits,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He had some great at-bats, really was huge offensively for us. I would gather to say he’s been more of a clutch hitter than a good hitter. I mean he’s hitting .300, but the majority of his hits have either tied ball games or given us the lead. He’s done a great job for us.”

“He made some great defensive plays (Saturday). He’s done a tremendous job for us defensively.”

Abreu, appearing in his eighth game since his Aug. 8 promotion from Triple-A Omaha, delivered a two-run two-out second inning single, scoring Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain. Salvador Perez, who walked to lead off the inning, scored the first run of the inning on Eric Hosmer’s sacrifice fly.

Abreu’s two-out sixth inning single scored Hosmer, who had doubled, and broke a 4-4 tie.

Yost said he would probably give shortstop Alcides Escobar off Monday and play Abreu, who is hitting .344 with seven RBIs while starting four games at second base, three at third and one at shortstop.

“I just see him as a good hitter,” Royals closer Greg Holland said. “He doesn’t try to do too much. He puts good swings on the ball and works the count. I guess that counts as clutch.”

Holland struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to log his 10th save in 12 chances. He is 9-for-9 in save situations since the Royals traded closer Jonathan Broxton on July 31 to Cincinnati.

The Twins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Justin Morneau’s groundout in the first and Chris Parmelee’s homer in the next inning.

In the fifth inning, Billy Butler singled home David Lough, who had four hits in his first two big league games.

The Twins tied it in the sixth on a two-run single by Alexi Casilla on a full-count pitch with two out and the bases loaded against Tim Collins.

While Collins (5-2) got a blown save, he also got the win. Starter Luis Mendoza left with a 4-2 lead after five innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, throwing 84 pitches.

“Mendoza was starting to labor,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They had (Joe) Mauer, (Justin) Morneau and (Ryan) Doumit coming up. I just said I’m going to match up from here. I wish he could have got the win.”

The Royals padded their lead in the eighth with Lorenzo Cain’s run-producing double.

Esmerling Vasquez (0-1), who was making his first big league start after 141 relief appearances, allowed five runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings.

“Vasquez was good,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He misfired a little there in the second inning and threw some balls to the backstop. He had one bad inning early, but then he settled down OK. He gave us a chance to win. We’ll take that and go forward.”

NOTES: OF Josh Willingham, who leads the Twins with 33 home runs and 96 RBIs, was held out of the lineup with a tender hamstring. .The Royals open a four-game series Monday with AL West leader Texas. RHP Yu Darvish, who is 3-5 with a 5.49 ERA in his past nine outings, will start for the Rangers. The Royals will counter with LHP Bruce Chen, who was with the Rangers in 2007. .Royals LF Alex Gordon went 0-for-3 and walked to snap his 10-game hitting streak. .Twins RHP P.J. Walters, who missed 70 games with shoulder inflammation, will make his first start Wednesday at Chicago since June 13. He was 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in seven starts before the injury.